TBE workshop on Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) in Brussels

The use of EPD is growing in the construction industry, both in the EU and beyond. This increase is being ­driven by both new legal requirements and the proli­feration of voluntary EPD schemes. On 28 February 2012 a workshop on Product Category Rules (PCR), organized by TBE (Tiles and Bricks Europe), took place in ­Brussels.

Today, it is no longer acceptable for a manufacturer simply to claim that his products are sustainable. Transparent assessment and validation processes with the help of EPD are now becoming the norm. The EPD are compiled according to the rules of various European EPD schemes and verified by qualified third-party experts. Product Category Rules (PCR) provide guidance and rules for the collection of data, for the calculations and how this information should be presented.

CEN (European Committee for Standardization) TC 350 has recently published a set of standards – one of them EN 15804 “Sustainability of construction works – Environmental product declarations – Core rules for the product category of construction products“. This European standard provides core product category rules (PCR) for Type III environmental declarations for any construction product and construction service.


EPD schemes

Some EU member states have developed their own EPD schemes. Others ask for proof of sustainability. With different PCR used by each scheme, EPD cannot be drafted based on harmonized standards. There are competing sources of generic data available and, last but not least, the EU is developing new environmental foot printing methods for buildings. It remains to be seen whether such methods will be regarded as supplementary to or a replacement of the existing standards.

The workshop in Brussels organized by TBE, with a substantial attendance not only from the construction industry but also from other industries and NGOs, is a milestone in the ongoing discussion and introduction of the EN 15804 standard. Presentations were given by Pavel Misiga (DG Environment – ­European Commission), Eric Gravier (inies, France), Anita Ory (Wienerberger Belgium), David Pennington (EC Joint Research Centre), Roland Hischier (Ecoinvent), Johannes Kreissig (representing Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V) and Chris Hamans (European Sustainability Consulting). The presentations and further information about the workshop can be found at http://www.tiles-bricks.eu/en/events/2012-pcr-stakeholder-workshop-28-february.

The conclusions of the participants of this workshop may be summarized as follows:
› This TBE workshop was the start of an absolutely necessary process
› EU member states are developing LCA/EPD tools without any coordination or shared platform at EU level
› There is an urgent need to harmonize LCA/EPD tools in the EU, especially when it comes to databases for generic data and indicators
› Industry is still facing a long uphill struggle when it comes to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
› Building products are intermediate products that contribute to the sustainable performance of buildings. Hence, the contribution of building products to the overall performance needs to be considered at building level in order to avoid any biased or misleading conclusions

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